Extreme Cameras Gallery

Lot of pressure on this blocky guy: NASA excitedly sent modified Hasselblad 500ELs to the moon along with the Apollo 11 astronauts, only to find out, through those bulky custom Carl Zeiss lenses, that nobody was home. BOOOORRIIINNNGG.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

So surely, all these years later, NASA's got some slick little super-cams that make their 1960's relics look like, well, 1960s relic, right? This 1920-chic shooter is called the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), and it flew with the Mars Phoenix in 2007 and 2008. Sadly, it was never called upon, though it did have a hell of a ride.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

This stocky beast, however, was. This is the Phoenix's Surface Stereo Imager, built by the University of Arizona, which captured almost all of the most iconic images the Phoenix sent back from the Red Planet.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

If you really want to sneak some glamor shots of horrible alien-like creatures, your best bet probably isn't sending a camera out to space—think closer, and wetter. The ORCA Eye in the Sea camera system is designed to shoot bio-luminescent creatures at depths approaching three quarters of a mile.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

Intended specifically for crash test recordings, the Ultima APX series of cameras, some of which can record in excess of 10,000fps, can be used for slightly more spectacular and/or terrifying purposes.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

Shooting the world's largest non-digital, non-enlarged photograph will naturally call for a fairly gigantic camera. The Great Picture pinhole camera is as large as an aircraft hangar. Actually, it is an aircraft hangar.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

A few years ago, Google was shopping around for hardware for a very specific, very demanding photography project: it involved taking pictures of pretty much everything, ever. We now know it as Street View, and spend quite a bit of time laughing at it. This little bulb, seen here inexplicably mounted on a human instead of a VW Beetle, from Immersive Media, is how a good portion of the 360-degree imagery was captured. [PopSci]

Extreme Cameras Gallery

Every wondered how the inside of a 4250-degree metal furnace looks when it's on? Me neither. The Lenox Firesight Pultz watercooled digital cameras will show you exactly what "hot" looks like, anyway, just because it can.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

Also hot: Stars. But you can't really just stick a camera in one of those, so we're stuck with equipment like the Pan-STARRS PS1, which shoots 1.6-gigapixel images of pretty much anything that isn't earth, through even more massive telescopes.

Extreme Cameras Gallery

On the other end of the size spectrum you've got the Sayaka Endoscope camera, which can be deployed into all manner of living meatsacks, humans included, to take gross pictures at a rate of 25-30 frames per second, at a resolution on par with your iPhone 3G.